If you are a recreational saltwater angler, Maine law may require you to register with the Maine Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry. To learn more or to register visit www.maine.gov/saltwater or call 633-9505. Here are the current conditions:
Anglers are seeing and marking lots of bait, which is a very good sign. Pollock with lesser amounts of cod and haddock continue to dominate the catch in the groundfishermen’s cooler. New for 2014, the minimum size for cod is 21 inches, nine fish per person daily bag limit. Also new for 2014, three fish per day per angler daily bag limit and a minimum size of 21 inches for haddock. There have been reports of some Atlantic bluefin tuna taken by rod and reel, just in time for the upcoming Bailey Island Tourney. A few sharks have also been reported, including threshers and blues. The minimum size for all keeper sharks (makos, porbeagles, threshers and blues) is 4 1/2 feet in length. All vessels fishing recreationally for Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish must have an Atlantic HMS Angling Permit. For more information about permits and the regs, contact the NOAA Fisheries at (888) 872-8862 or visit http://hmspermits.noaa.gov. The Portland weather buoy, located 12 nautical miles southeast of Portland, continues to report sea surface temperatures in the high 50s (brrrr). Last year at this time the temps were around 70.
Federal striped bass regulations: It is unlawful to fish for, take or possess striped bass in federal waters (waters greater than three miles from shore).
Statewide striped bass regulations: An angler may fish all year for striped bass, but may only keep one per day that measures between 20 and 26 inches total length or one striped bass per day that measures 40 inches or greater in total length. If you have any questions or would like copies of the 2014 saltwater regulations, call 633-9505 or check http://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational/rechomepage.html.
Remember: If you are fishing for striped bass or bluefish using bait, you must use a non-offset circle hook. There is an exception: Rubber or latex tube lures may be used without a circle hook as long as they are a minimum of 8 inches long and have a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached.
ZONE 1: Anglers targeting stripers should concentrate their effort out on the beaches and rock piles. There are still some bass in the lower portions of the rivers and throughout the Scarborough marsh but many of the fish have moved out. Get out early or late since the heat and sun may turn the catching off during the day. Biddeford Pool (Bathhouse end and rocks), Old Orchard, Higgins and Richmond Island continue to hold fish. Beach fishermen should check local ordinances prior to fishing as some area beaches restrict fishing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Clams are the bait of choice off the beaches while worms and macs are working in the rivers and estuaries. Trolling surgical tubes (wine red, bubblegum) with a worm continue to produce fish in the lower portions of the rivers. Kastmasters, Ronz, the mackerel pattern Striper Maine-iac and the pearl pattern Savage are just a few of the artificial baits that have been catching fish. Sand eel pattern flies are working for fly fishermen. Mackerel catching has been what can be expected for this time of year with the best catches being reported outside Saco Bay. Use chum (cat food) to stay on the fish once you start hooking up.
ZONE 2: The 76th Annual Bailey Island Tuna and Small Fish Tournament, based out of Cook’s Lobster House on Bailey Island, runs Monday through Saturday. This is a great fun-filled family event for both anglers and spectators. The ledges, islands and the outer Cape shoreline are the places to go for stripers. Baits that are working include worms and chunk or live mackerel. Gag’s Mambo Minnows and Schoolie Poppers, Rapala X-Raps and Yo-Zuri Mag Poppers are some of the artificials that have been fish getters. Anglers tossing flies have been getting into stripers using white or black Clousers and the Hollow Fleye. If fishing at night try using black flies as they silhouette well against the night. Macs can be had with some effort.
ZONE 3: The striped bass pick has been good to very good in some of the rivers and slightly better around the rocky ledges and off the beaches. As the rivers continue to warm, try working the deep spots early or late using bait. Fishing the rivers has also become very tide specific. Anglers targeting stripers need to read the water; looking for moving water and rips off any points. Natural channels, where the flats drain as the tide falls and bird action are also good indicators. Worms, eels and macs have been catching fish. A few of the artificials that have been working are the Rebel Windcheater, Creek Chubs and Gag’s Poppers. Fly enthusiasts fishing pollock or mackerel pattern flies and black Clousers (at night) report some action. Remember that if you are fishing on the Kennebec, upstream of the power line in Augusta, you must have a current freshwater license. Mackerel can be found all the way Downeast. The Southport Bridge, the Boothbay Fish Pier and the Rockland Breakwater are just a couple of spots where anglers have shore access to catch these fish.
This saltwater report is compiled by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources. He can be reached at 633-9505, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575, or by email at: